Iraj Islam is an entrepreneur, a curious creator that is how he likes to think about himself. And after talking with him, at FS our realization is- some people are here to make something happen for no other reason but only because they love to do it. Iraj is the Co-Founder and CTO of NewsCred, a news wire with a vision to disrupt news industry in order to save it. Few days ago, we sat with Iraj to find out more about his entrepreneurial journey, NewsCred, his take on entrepreneurship and building business and we are thrilled after finding more.
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Stockholm, the beautiful capital of Sweden. For an entrepreneur, Sweden is nearly the polar opposite of Bangladesh in terms of opportunity because the market in Sweden is very saturated, whereas the market in Bangladesh is very fertile and poised to grow. Dhaka is begging for entrepreneurs to come in and solve problems, it’s the ideal place for entrepreneurs.
I did all my schooling in Stockholm; I studied Computer Science at the Royal Institute of Technology and later studied Economics at the Stockholm School of Economics and also studied Entrepreneurship at the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship.
I started my first unofficial company when I was 16; it was a web development firm. My mother bought me my first HTML book when I was 11. She taught me Adobe Photoshop even earlier, so I have been programming and designing for a very long time. I started my first official consumer web service company in my early 20s, an e-commerce marketplace website. We won several business plan awards, it was a highly publicized venture in the Swedish press and we had good initial traction. Unfortunately, the market conditions quickly changed and we weren’t able to execute on our broader vision.
What is your passion in life?
I fell in love with design and programming early in life and later discovered my true passion, entrepreneurship; the art and science of creating disproportionate value from limited resources, also known as “creating something out of nothing.” It’s one of those things that takes a long time to master because it’s the intersection of many different disciplines; ideation, innovation, product development, design, marketing, management, psychology, finance etc.
[blockquote source]I fell in love with design and programming early in life and later discovered my true passion, entrepreneurship; the art and science of creating disproportionate value from limited resources, also known as “creating something out of nothing.[/blockquote]
What inspires you to build things?
The notion of being able to change the world around you, as opposed to simply live in it is a very inspiring idea to me. It’s a very simple idea, but when you realize that your own ideas and actions can shape the world around you, you become very motivated to reach out into the world, and change it.
Tell me something about NewsCred that we should know and we should not know.
NewsCred is a very disruptive venture because it’s one of the few companies in the world that has a realistic chance of completely re-imagining and reinventing a whole industry. In our case, we’re talking about the news industry, which is worth several billion dollars per year. The news industry is very important for society at large because it’s one of the fundamental pillars of democracy.
NewsCred is the only company in the world that brings together original content from renowned publishers such as Forbes, The Guardian, The Economist and 800+ of the world’s best newspapers and publishing brands under one license. If you need content, NewsCred has a very unique and compelling value proposition for you.
One thing many people don’t know about NewsCred is that we originally started off as a consumer-facing news website. Our vision was to give people a trustworthy platform to access high-quality and credible journalism. In many ways, that is still our overarching vision today.
[blockquote source]The notion of being able to change the world around you, as opposed to simply live in it is a very inspiring idea to me. It’s a very simple idea, but when you realize that your own ideas and actions can shape the world around you, you become very motivated to reach out into the world, and change it.[/blockquote]
You have number of degrees from world renowned universities, but why did you take the way of entrepreneurship where you had much easier options to follow?
The truth is that I love entrepreneurship; I really love what I do. I love technology, I love innovation and I love creating and building things. The reason I became an entrepreneur is because the idea of building something that can change the world really intrigues me.
You are the Co-founder of NewsCred, please briefly tell us how did you come up with the idea of NewsCred and how did you get started?
We love news. We started NewsCred to give people around the world access to high-quality and credible journalism. We also understand that the current model in the news industry is broken. Traditional newspapers and media houses are having a hard time adapting and making the transition from print to digital. At NewsCred, we’re excited to help publishers succeed in this new digital age.
Would you like to tell us about profit or break-even or something like that?
Our revenues are growing very quickly and we hope to be a $10 million per year company in the very near future.
You are with NewsCred for three years and we can say NewsCred is a kind of success; what made this possible to come a long way?
At NewsCred, we’re very passionate about the problems we are trying to solve. We fundamentally believe that we are doing something meaningful by creating real value in the news industry. During challenging times, our overall vision has always kept us going. We always knew that the news industry was ready for disruption and we wanted to innovate and be part of that positive change.
What is your perception about the state of entrepreneurship in Bangladesh and what are the main obstacles for young entrepreneurs in your eyes?
It’s difficult for young entrepreneurs to build a company in Bangladesh. But it’s also difficult to build a successful company anywhere else in the world. If you read the biographies of great people who changed the world, you will undoubtedly find that most of them came from underprivileged backgrounds and lived under very harsh conditions. Despite this, they achieved things over their lifetime, which seemed like impossible feats to the rest of us.
One of the tangible obstacles here is culture. Culturally, Bangladesh has always favored and respected doctors, engineers and lawyers over entrepreneurs. I believe this is wrong. Entrepreneurs create jobs, pay salaries and give families the security and opportunity that is required for a society to thrive. We need to inspire young entrepreneurs to dream big and work hard to change Bangladesh so our children can inherit a better society than the one we live in today.
[blockquote source]It’s difficult for young entrepreneurs to build a company in Bangladesh. But it’s also difficult to build a successful company anywhere else in the world. If you read the biographies of great people who changed the world, you will undoubtedly find that most of them came from underprivileged backgrounds and lived under very harsh conditions.[/blockquote]
If any young startup entrepreneur comes to you and asks for your advice what you will say to him/her?
I believe the two most important things for an entrepreneur are passion and perseverance. Passion means finding something you really love to do. You’re work will occupy a large part of your life so it’s important you choose a line of work that you’re very passionate about. Perseverance means never giving up on your dreams and visions. Entrepreneurship is tough, and you need to persevere through the bad times in order to get to the good times.
Do you think the entrepreneurs who are successful today have some particular traits or capabilities that are imperative for entrepreneurial success?
Well, like I mentioned before, I believe passion and perseverance are the two most important character traits in successful entrepreneurs.
What interests you most?
What interests me the most is waking up every morning knowing that I’m doing everything in my power to chase my dreams and change the world. There are certainly easier ways to make money or become famous than to become an entrepreneur.
[blockquote source"]I believe the two most important things for an entrepreneur are passion and perseverance. Passion means finding something you really love to do. You’re work will occupy a large part of your life so it’s important you choose a line of work that you’re very passionate about. Perseverance means never giving up on your dreams and visions.[/blockquote]
As Iraj said traditionally Bangladesh has always favored and respected doctors, engineers and lawyers over entrepreneurs. However, more interesting to me that Bangladesh also favored office jobs (clerical, peons) over carpenters, farmers and other manufacturing professions. But good news is that the culture is rapidly changing due to the contributions of the young entrepreneurs like Iraj.
Well said Ms Shelly, it's true that a wind of change has started to blow slowly, but I don't think it's strong enough to bring any substantial change shortly. There is a significant lack of initiatives to make progress in this sector. Still our universities teach safe job is better than starting something own, classes are busy with teaching case study of P & G. Top of that, the scope for young entrepreneurs is significantly shrink compare to requirement, still interest rate on bank loan is 17-20%, still there is very insignificant platforms where entrepreneurs can take help. However, hope is good thing. Though we need more inclusive approach to make progress happen in this sector, we need to create more opportunity for young entrepreneurs and also need to make them capable to use those opportunities.
Yeah the interview is encouraging, indeed.
I think not only in Bangladesh, but also around the world, salaried jobs--with certainty-- are favored. and as a society that is growing, getting matured, Bangladesh is also like other countries, though the extent might be different.
Good news is that, we're now finding sites like FutureStartup. I'm sure that these boys will shake the scenario 🙂
And i'm missing a screenshot of that website..in this interview.
Did you mean newscred website? you can easily visit by clicking given link or visit here_ http://www.newscred.com
Obviously I can click the link. But why not help your reader ahead by providing a sneak-peak of what you're talking 🙂
Thanks for suggestion:)